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Drama as registrar, lawyer in Mabirizi-Kabaka case exchange insults

By Andante Okanya

Added 9th November 2017 04:12 PM

“We cannot tolerate this behaviour. We will have you thrown out”. This elicited a volley of jeers from Mabirizi, saying in Luganda, “Bwanika tontiisa”

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“We cannot tolerate this behaviour. We will have you thrown out”. This elicited a volley of jeers from Mabirizi, saying in Luganda, “Bwanika tontiisa”

A Police officer ordering Mabiriizi to vacate court premises yesterday after he refused his bitter exchange with the Registrar. Photo by Meddie Musisi

A court session meant for pronouncement on whether Buganda Kingdom’s land title drive (Kyapa Mu Ngalo) be halted, turned dramatic and descended into a bitter exchange with protests and jeers.

Yesterday, Assistant Registrar of the civil division of the High Court in Kampala Joy Bahinguza declined to halt the drive as demanded by Male Mabirizi, the lawyer battling Kabaka. Mabirizi is the lawyer who sued the Kabaka, querying the land registration rationale

Tempers flared shortly after Kabaka’s lead lawyer Christopher Bwanika, in his capacity as senior advocate, had introduced the parties present, including officials from Buganda Land Board (BLB).

Others present were BLB head legal services Barnabas Ndaula, Daniel Ssenyomo (also of BLB legal department), and another Kabaka lawyer Cyrus Baguma who flanked Bwanika.

When Bwanika stated that his team was ready to receive the ruling, Mabirizi interjected saying Bahinguza lacked the authority  to execute duties of an Assistant Registrar.

“This matter is coming up for ruling, which ruling I have arrested with an affidavit. You have no jurisdiction to hear or make a ruling. It is premised on my supplementary affidavit filed on November 6.”

“You are a Chief Magistrate, not a Registrar, therefore, it was fatal or accidental for you to entertain the matter,” Mabirizi stated.

Bwanika swiftly remarked: “I take exception to this insult. You (Mabirizi) are disrespecting court. The Chief Justice was recently quoted in the media, saying Judges should not be intimidated by lawyers, with intention to delay cases.”

Bahinguza quickly stated: “Calm down. Let me deliver the ruling.”

But Mabirizi raised his voice and did not relent. He asserted that he had perused the Judiciary staff profile record and established that the chief registrar assigned Bahinguza in acting capacity.

Bwanika, who was visibly irritated, told Mabirizi to exhibit court decorum, lest he be ejected from the Bahinguza’s chambers.

“We cannot tolerate this behaviour. We will have you thrown out”. This elicited a volley of jeers from Mabirizi, saying in Luganda, “Bwanika Tontiisa (Bwanika do not scare me).”

Amidst the drama, Mabirizi protested, and mocked Bahinguza, claiming she was presiding over a Kangaroo court.

However, she ignored him and delivered her ruling, dismissing his application to halt the drive, as ill-considered.

“This application is frivolous. It has no merit. The matter was already handled by the presiding judge (Justice Patricia Basaza-Wasswa).”

As a Police officer led Mabirizi out of the Assistant Registrar’s chambers, Bahinguza took a parting shot at him.

“You are not the one who educated me. I am performing my duty on behalf of the people of Uganda. You cannot stop me.”

Background
The main case arose last year on August 8, with Mabirizi seeking a pronouncement that compulsory registration of people living on land registered in the Kabaka's name at a sh600,000 fee, is illegal.

Mabirizi contends that Kabaka is only a trustee of the official mailo land. He wants court
to denounce the 10% charge levied by BLB on the sale value of land.

However, the Kabaka has rubbished Mabirizi's claims, saying the registration is voluntary.

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